Including some tips to keep in mind when washing a delicate down comforter.

Wondering how to wash a comforter without taking it to the dry cleaner? Learning how to wash a comforter at home is easier than you think. For a down-alternative comforter, the process is simple—just follow the guide below. And if you want to learn how to wash a down comforter at home, don't worry, that can be done too, there are just a few more precautions to keep in mind. Your bedding is about to be remarkably clean.

Can You Wash Your Comforter at Home?

Both down and down-alternative comforters can be washed at home. But it's a good idea to wash these comforters in a large commercial washing machine at your neighborhood laundromat. A smaller household washer could compress and distort the filler, says Allen Rathey, president of Housekeeping Channel. Also, it's a good idea to check the care label on your comforter or duvet insert before washing or drying it.

How to Wash a Down-Alternative Comforter

Wash the comforter with the machine set on the gentle or delicate cycle, using cool or warm water. Since every comforter is a bit different, check the care tag or contact the manufacturer for detergent suggestions.

To dry the comforter, set the dryer on low heat and add a few tennis balls to plump up the comforter as it spins. (Use brand-new tennis balls, or put the tennis balls in clean white socks to avoid potentially leaving marks on your clean comforter.) Alternatively, you can use wool dryer balls, which will help fluff your comforter in the dryer.

Keep your comforter clean in between washings by protecting it with a duvet cover. (Here's how to put on a duvet cover.) When the cover needs a cleaning, it will easily fit into a household washing machine, so you can skip the trip to the laundromat.

How to Wash a Down Comforter

The safest option to preserve your down comforter for many years to come is to hand it off to a professional for washing. But, if you'd prefer to learn how to wash a down comforter yourself, follow these tips.

Again, it's a smart idea to wash the down comforter in a large washing machine at your local laundromat to avoid compressing it. When adding the comforter to the machine, try to spread it out so it's not crumpled. Add just a small amount of gentle laundry detergent and skip the fabric softener.

Set the washing machine to cool water on the gentle or delicate cycle. If it's an option, select the extended rinse cycle to make sure all of the detergent is removed from the feathers. When the cycle is complete, check for any detergent residue. If the comforter is still soapy, you may need to wash it again without detergent to rinse.

Dry the down comforter on the lowest heat setting in a high-capacity dryer at the laundromat. Add a few dryer balls to the cycle. It's safer to dry the comforter for longer on a lower setting to avoid singeing the delicate down. Check the comforter every half hour or so. It's important to wait until the comforter is completely dry to avoid potential mildew from forming in the down. So bring a good book and have your quarters ready! Don't want to wait? You can always drop off the comforter at the dry cleaner.

How Often to Wash a Comforter

A comforter or duvet insert should be washed a few times a year, although you can reduce the frequency of washing by keeping a cover on the comforter. Most experts recommend duvet covers be washed every few weeks. It's also a good idea to do a thorough washing of all the bedding after one of your family members has been sick.

Whether you're trying to clean your comforter at home to keep your household healthy or to avoid the cost of taking it to the dry cleaner, this guide will get your comforter clean and fresh—without sacrificing fluffiness.